Lebanese PM Najib Mikati denies direct contact with Israel at Cop27

Regional climate change meeting took place on sidelines of summit in Sharm El Sheikh

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Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has rejected reports he had direct contact with an Israeli official on the sidelines of the UN climate conference Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Lebanon does not recognise Israel and the two countries technically remain in a state of war with each other.

Iran-backed Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese political party and armed group, has frequently fought with its arch foe Israel.

Israeli media had claimed that representatives from several countries, including Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Israel, had agreed to co-operate on climate change action at a closed-door meeting for regional countries.

Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg's office said an agreement by parties to the meeting would help “strengthen regional co-operation” and “act in a co-ordinated way” on global warming.

“The countries of the region share the warming and drying climate and just as they share the problems they can and must share the solutions. No country can stand alone in the face of the climate crisis,” Ms Zandberg said.

A picture posted online shows Ms Zandberg in the foreground around a large table sat next to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, with Egyptian President Abdel Fateh El Sisi to the left and Mr Mikati in the background.

Mr Mikati's office accused Israeli media of overblowing the regional forum and creating “uproar”.

“To be clear, the expanded meeting took place at the invitation of the presidents of Egypt and Cyprus and with their presence and with wide international and Arab participation, as was the case with other activities of the [Cop27]. It did not involve any contact with any Israeli official,” his office said.

Lebanon and Israel recently signed a landmark maritime deal following indirect US shuttle mediation that would demarcate their sea borders and allow gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean for both countries.

But Lebanese officials have repeatedly emphasised that the deal in no way represents any sort of working partnership.

Updated: November 09, 2022, 10:23 AM